25 leading institutions joining new alternative credit project

Institutions to participate in ACE Alternative Credit Project to increase attainment levels for nontraditional learners with some college, no degree.

alternative-credit-projectThe American Council on Education (ACE) has announced that 25 colleges and universities are joining an alternative credit consortium as part of what it says is an innovative initiative to create a more flexible pathway toward a college degree for millions of nontraditional learners.

The 25 institutions serving in this pilot project have agreed to accept all or most of the transfer credit sought by students who successfully complete courses that are part of a selected pool of about 100 low-cost or no-cost lower division general education online courses. These institutions also will help identify the sources, criteria and quality of the courses.

The participating institutions represent a diverse group of four-year and two-year, public and private, non-profit and for-profit colleges and universities that have a strong commitment to access and attainment and serving nontraditional learners. They are:

  • American Public University
  • Capella University
  • Central Michigan University
  • Charter Oak State College
  • Colorado Community College System
  • Colorado Technical University; East Carolina University
  • Fayetteville State University
  • Fort Hays State University
  • Goodwin College
  • John F. Kennedy University
  • Kaplan University
  • Lakeland College
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver

(Next page: More institutions; developing a new framework)

  • National Louis University; Northern Arizona University
  • Northwestern State University
  • Notre Dame College
  • SUNY Empire State College
  • Texas Woman’s University
  • Thomas Edison State College
  • University of Baltimore
  • University of Maryland University College
  • University of Memphis
  • University of North Carolina

Participating institutions have agreed to provide anonymized data to ACE regarding the amount of credit their institution accepts, as well as progress and success rates of students transferring in courses through this project.

Additional college, university and system partners will be recruited in fall 2015 to join the consortium.

This initiative is made possible by a $1.89 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its initial focus will be on the more than 31 million adults who have completed some postsecondary coursework but lack a degree or credential; but many of these students represent first-generation, low-income students, so findings from this investment likely will apply to younger students from this population, as well, says ACE.

“The institutions serving in this pilot project will play a valuable role in helping enhance the work we have been doing for many years in developing quality mechanisms for determining the credit worthiness of education, training and life experiences outside of a formal higher education classroom setting,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “We very much appreciate this generous investment and the commitment it represents to the effort to provide a more flexible and cost-efficient way to increase the number of Americans able to gain a college degree or credential.”

As an additional part of the effort, ACE will expand its current work in the area of college credit recommendations by developing a quality framework and guidelines for issuing recommendations for digital micro-credentials, competency-based programs, and non-degree certificate programs.

“This project will yield multiple and long-lasting benefits to the participating institutions, the wider higher education community and potentially millions of nontraditional learners,” said Deborah Seymour, ACE assistant vice president for education attainment and innovation. “It will help lead to the greater acceptance of alternative forms of credit in a way that ensures quality and encourages more people to complete their postsecondary education.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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